We continue our 12-part series on shame, based on Brene′ Brown’s book, Daring Greatly.
Publication days: Monday – Wednesday - Friday
Each week we are introducing each blog with this quote from Brene′.
“People often want to believe that shame is reserved for people who have survived an unspeakable trauma, but this is not true. Shame is something we all experience. And while it feels as if shame hides in our darkest corners, it actually tends to lurk in all of the familiar places.
Today’s Topic …
The topic of ‘sex’ as a standalone word will grab headlines, turn every head in the room and be read just because of the subject matter. That, however, doesn’t mean we always get it right. Unfortunately, more times than not, sex is a huge player in the shame arena.
There are all kinds of phrases we can attach to the issue of sex in each of our lives.
I’m not good enough.
I’m not pretty enough.
I’m not sexy enough.
I am too small.
I am too large.
I am …
Fill in the blank and you can complete most of the conversations around sex.
Women tend to think that men want a sex goddess in the bed room and men think that women continually move the bar on what is good sex, appropriate sex and meaningful sex.
Add to this the fear that one is being judged and you have a real mess. In Brene’s book, she tells of a group interview session when the topic turned toward sex.
“A young woman shared about how scary it is to have sex with someone you care about when you’re worried about how your body looks. She said, “It’s not easy to have sex and keep your stomach sucked in. How can we get into it when we’re worried about our back fat?”
“A young man in the class slammed his hand down on the desk and shouted, “It’s not about the back fat. You’re worried about it? We’re not. We don’t give a s--t!”
“The class fell silent. He took a couple of deep breaths and said, “Stop making up all of this stuff about what we’re thinking. What we’re really thinking is “Do you love me? Do you care about me? Do you want me? Am I important to you? Am I good enough?”
Rejection hurts. And if we feel we are going to be rejected, we can easily turn to shame and go and hide somewhere.
Brene tells of an older man in this group. Listen to his words.
“It’s true. When you want to be with us … in that way … it makes us feel more worthy. We stand a little taller. Believe in ourselves more. I don’t know why, but it’s true. And I’ve been married since I was eighteen. It still feels that way with my wife.”
I’m going to let Brene bring us home on this subject.
“Cultivating intimacy – physical or emotional – is almost impossible when our shame triggers meet head-on and create the perfect shame storm. Sometimes these shame storms are directly about sex and intimacy, but often there are outlying gremlins wreaking havoc in our relationships. Common issues include body image, aging, appearance, money, parenting, motherhood, exhaustion, resentment, and fear.
“When I asked men, women, and couples how they practiced Wholeheartedness around these very sensitive and personal issues, the answer came up again and again: honest, loving conversations that require major vulnerability. We have to be able to talk about how we feel, and what we need and desire, and we have to be able to listen with an open heart and an open mind. There is no intimacy without vulnerability.”
You really need to read this book.
Guilt is “I did something bad.”
Shame is “I am bad.”
No, you are not bad. You are, perhaps, a victim of wrong thinking.
Seek help. Read some good books. And talk, talk, talk with your significant other.
P Michael Biggs
One Word at a Time